An Abridged Retelling of the Crew of the Ghost

They were among the first people to join the fight against the Empire. Their success inspired hope in countless people across the galaxy in their heyday. They were the Spectres, and their efforts helped lay the groundwork for the Rebellion that would topple an Empire.

Debuting in 2014’s Star Wars: Rebels, the Disney XD sequel to The Clone Wars, the show followed the exploits of the Spectres as they fought for the growing Rebellion. With the upcoming Ashoka series set to continue their story as a whole, now is the perfect time to look back on this group of misfits that played a crucial role in the early days of the Rebel Alliance. I’m RJ Writing Ink, and this is an abridged recap on the history of the Spectres.

Meet the Team

Star Wars-The Crew of the Ghost, the Spectres
Source-Wookiepedia, Star Wars

The Spectres were among the first groups to take up arms against the Empire and played a significant role in the early Rebellion. Despite coming from different backgrounds, they all had two things in common. Firstly, they all suffered at the hands of the Empire. Secondly, they wanted to make sure no one else went through what they did.

First, there’s Hera Syndulla, their leader. The daughter of a famed freedom fighter, Hera, grew up during the Clone Wars. She saw her dad help free their homeworld of Ryloth from Separatist control and met her best friend, Chopper. He was an astromech in the Grand Army of the Republic. Hera was saved after his ship got shot down. When the Empire came in and took control, Hera’s mother was killed, and she and her dad had a falling out. Thus, she and Chopper left for the stars, becoming the captain of a freighter called the Ghost.

Then there was Kanan Jarrus. Born Caleb Dume, he was a former Jedi Padawan who survived Order 66, but his master did not. Forced to hide his Jedi past to survive, he and Hera met while stopping a corrupt Imperial Governor. He joined her as part of the crew, and they would eventually fall in love. 

Garazeb’ Zeb’ Orrelios was a Lasat, a race of mighty warriors from the planet Lasan. He had been a Captain in their honor guard until the Empire attacked, forcing him to flee as his people were all but wiped out. He became the muscle of the group.

Lastly, there was Sabine Wren, an exiled Mandalorian. She joined the Imperial Academy on Mandalore and developed weapons to help bring peace. Instead, the Empire turned them on her people, prompting her to flee and be branded a traitor by both. 

Together, this group became the Spectres. They were more than just a group of misfit outlaws; they were a family. Yet they still had one more member to add.

Star Wars: The Ghost, home of the Spectres
Source-IGN, Star Wars

Ezra Bridger, Orphan of Lothal

Star Wars: Rebels-Ezra Bridger
Source-Star Wars.Com, Star Wars

By 5 BBY, the Spectres were operating on the Outer Rim world of Lothal when they ran into a teenager named Ezra Bridger. Years ago, his parents spoke out against the Empire, leading to their arrest and Ezra living on the streets, learning how to steal to survive. Despite this, he had a good heart and empathy for others suffering. As Kanan discovered, Ezra was also Force-Sensitive. 

Even though he had never finished training, Kanan knew he couldn’t leave Ezra alone. After an initial adventure, Kanan offered to let Ezra join the Spectres as his Padawan so he could learn how to become a Jedi. After hesitating, Ezra accepted the offer, becoming the team’s newest member.

Initial Hurdles and Attracting Imperial Attention

Star Wars: Agent Kallus of the ISB
Source-Star Wars.Com, Star Wars

Ezra’s initial training wasn’t easy for both master and student. Years of looking out for himself made it hard for Ezra to learn to trust others. Likewise, Kanan’s insecurities about being a teacher didn’t help things. It would take a while for them to overcome these early hurdles, and during this time, they continued to fight the Empire. At first, they only had to deal with Agent Kallus, a member of the Imperial Security Bureau, AKA their secret police. However, they soon attracted the attention of something deadlier. 

Enter the Inquisitors, former Jedi that joined the Empire after embracing the Dark Side. They hunted their former comrades to ensure a new generation of Jedi would not rise, and their leader personally went after Kanan and Ezra. After multiple skirmishes and narrow escapes, the pair’s luck ran out. While Ezra was broadcasting a message against the Empire, Kanan got captured by the Grand Inquisitor.

The Spectres would mount a mission to rescue Kanan from the personal star destroyer of Grand Moff Tarkin, orbiting above the planet Mustafar. The following events saw the ship going down in flames and Kanan and Ezra besting the Grand Inquisitor in combat. Rather than face his Sith Masters, the Grand Inquisitor took his own life. More importantly, Hera and Chopper revealed that they weren’t the only Rebels out there. Senator Bail Organa and Ashoka Tano spearheaded numerous cells across the galaxy!

That was the good news.

Hunted by the Sith

The bad news was that the Spectres had the Empire’s full attention after what happened over Mustafar. Darth Vader arrived on Lothal to lead the hunt for the Ghost crew, with more Inquisitors in tow. To Ezra’s dismay, the group had no choice but to flee Lothal for their safety, joining the larger Phoenix Squadron. 

Now being hunted by the Sith, the Spectres wandered the galaxy in search of a new base while recruiting new allies and dealing with their issues.

Star Wars: Rebels-Captain Rex
Source-YouTube, Star Wars
  • They recruited Ashoka’s old comrade, Captain Rex, who had been in hiding since the end of the Clone Wars. Kanan wasn’t happy at first, but Ezra helped him overcome his issues with the Clones.
  • Hera reunited and reconciled with her father.
  • Sabine met with the Mandalorian people for the first time in years and took the first steps to make amends.
  • Zeb and Kallus were stranded on a moon of Geonosis. Despite hating him for his role in the massacre of his people, Zeb’s rage softened when Kallus admitted he regretted how bad things got. That, and he made Kallus realize the Empire wasn’t as great as he thought.
  • Zeb also discovered that his people weren’t on the verge of extinction, either. Their true homeworld remained hidden in Wild Space, safe from the Empire.
  • Chopper stumbled upon the secret world of Atollon, giving Phoenix Squadron a chance to build a base named in his honor.
  • Kanan, Ezra, and Ashoka continued their training, with Kanan attaining the rank of Jedi Knight.
  • Ezra met Ryder Azadi, the former governor of Lothal and a friend of his parents. He told them they heard his message from their prison, inspiring them to lead a revolt. While Ryder and others got out, they didn’t make it.

Losing Ashoka on Malachor

As Vader and the Inquisitors continued to hunt them, Ezra, Kanan, and Ashoka realized they had to leave Phoenix Squadron. They’d be putting everyone in danger so long as they were around. Their search for a way to beat their Dark Side counterparts ultimately led them to the ancient Sith world of Malachor. In this heart of darkness, they made their stand alongside an unexpected ally: Maul, the former Sith Lord turned crime lord. He’d been stranded on Malachor for years but was willing to work with them against their common enemy.

In the following fight, the four managed to slay their Inquisitor pursuers. However, Maul then predictably turned on them to gain access to an ancient Sith Holocron, blinding Kanan in the process. Maul then bailed just as Darth Vader arrived to deal with them in person. Ezra watched helplessly as Ashoka battled the Sith Lord, who she now knew was her former master, so they could escape. Ezra and Kanan got away, but everyone assumed that Vader had killed Ashoka, leaving them all grieving at the loss of their friend.

Darkness Within and Without

The following months were challenging for the Spectres, with Kanan retreating into himself while Ezra took on a more significant role in the group. As Ezra began to tap more into the Dark Side, though, Kanan came out of his solace, having learned how to use the Force to see. It took some doing, but Ezra overcame the trauma of Malachor with Kanan.

The same couldn’t be said for Maul, who remained a recurring foe. When he failed to make Ezra his apprentice, he resorted to combining the Sith Holocron Ezra took with a Jedi counterpart kept by Kanan to grant himself a Force vision of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Everything came to a head when Ezra sought the legendary Jedi out on Tatooine, only for him to rebuff his pleas to join the Rebellion. Maul followed Ezra, though, leading to a final battle that saw Obi-Wan defeat Maul one last time. 

Star Wars Rebels: Mon Mothma Forming the Rebellion
Source-Star Wars.Com, Star Wars

The Rebellion also continued to grow in strength. After his experiences with Zeb, Kallus defected and chose to become a spy for the Rebels under the alias “Fulcrum.” In addition, the Ghost crew came to the rescue of Senator Mon Mothma, the latter fleeing after speaking out against the Empire’s atrocities. This gave them front-row seats as Mon Mothma gave the speech that marked the official formation of the Rebel Alliance.

Thrawn Wrecks the Rebels

Star Wars: Rebels-Grand Admiral Thrawn
Source-Star Wars.Com, Star Wars

After Malachor, Darth Vader ceased his hunting of the Ghost Crew, as did the Inquisitors. Instead, Tarkin took up the task in full, and he brought in the Empire’s best. He brought in Thrawn. 

Unlike most Imperials, Thrawn was competent and an outside-the-box thinker. Even when the Rebels go up against him and escape, Thrawn’s not concerned. Each encounter brought him closer to his goal of finding the rebel base and killing the Rebellion in its infancy. Despite Kallus’ efforts to buy them time, Thrawn outsmarted and outed him as a spy and traitor. Worse, Kallus’ last transmission was the last piece he needed to locate Atollon.

The resulting battle was a disaster. Despite their best efforts, the Rebellion’s no match for the Empire in a straight-up fight. It’s only thanks to the intervention of Sabine and the Mandalorians that Ezra, Kallus, and the occupants of Chopper Base can they retreat. The damage was already done, though. With Chopper Base gone, their plans to liberate Lothal go on hold.  

The Greater Fight…and Sacrifice

Based on Yavin IV with the rest of the Rebellion, the Spectres continued to fight against the Empire wherever they could. During this time, they took part in the ongoing Mandalorian Civil War. Despite being shunned for creating a weapon that the Empire used to kill anyone wearing beskar armor, Sabine managed to redeem herself by recovering the Dark Saber from Maul. Using the Darksaber as a rallying symbol, Sabine, her family, and Bo-Katan Kryze overthrew the Imperial puppets ruling Mandalore. Bo-Katan then took up the Darksaber and title of Mandalore while pledging their support to the Rebellion. 

Star Wars: Rebels-Kanan's Sacrifice
Source-Star Wars

That’s the only victory they get around this time, though. Their next attempt to liberate Lothal failed and led to Hera Syndulla’s capture by Thrawn. The rest of the Ghost crew mounted a daring rescue mission that succeeded in freeing Hera but came at a significant cost. When the crew was pinned down by an explosion and encroaching Imperials, Kanan Jarrus sacrificed himself to give his family a chance to escape, devastating Hera and the others and leaving their morale lower than ever.

Saving Ashoka, Coming to Terms with Loss

As the Spectres mourned the passing of Kanan, they were approached by Loth-Wolves, legendary beasts with a connection to the Force. The Wolves led them to the ruins of an old Jedi Temple, where the Empire was attempting to unlock a portal that could lead them into a realm within the Force itself. Ezra beat them to it, though, and found himself in a place between space and time, able to witness everything that had happened and yet to come. In the process, he noticed the final fight between Ashoka and Vader on Malachor years earlier. Before Vader could kill her, Ezra pulled her into this realm, saving her life.

For a moment, Ezra considered using the realm’s power to prevent Kanan’s death. Thankfully, Ashoka helped him realize how bad an idea this would be. Had Kanan not done what he did, Ezra, Hera, and the Spectres would’ve died instead. With this, Ezra made peace with his master’s death. 

Their time got cut short, though, when the Emperor tried to enter this realm, wanting to use it to conquer all of existence. Thus, the pair had to destroy the portal to keep it out of Sidious’ hands before returning to their respective times only after Ahsoka promised to find Ezra, though.

Outcrazying Thrawn and Liberating Thrawn

After their last attempt failed, the Rebel Alliance decided they couldn’t risk losing any other resources freeing Lothal and gave up on it for the time being. However, the Ghost crew had come too far to back down now. Assembling a team of friends and allies, they made over the years, the Spectres launched one final effort to drive the Empire off of Lothal.

With Admiral Thrawn standing in their way, this ragtag group faced an uphill battle. Since they couldn’t beat him with brute force or outsmart him, Ezra’s strategy was simple: out-crazy him. Capturing the Imperial Governor in a skirmish in the wilderness, they planned to force the Imperials to take shelter inside their command center in the capital, launch it into the sky, and then blow it up. It worked to an extent. Thrawn remained ahead of them and threatened to destroy the city unless Ezra turned himself in. He did, but not before giving the others his trump card: purgills, AKA the massive, hyperspace-traveling space whales of Star Wars.

The Ghost crew managed to summon an entire pod of purgills that wasted Thrawn’s fleet. As for Thrawn himself, the purgills latched onto his ship before jumping into hyperspace, destination unknown. To keep Thrawn from escaping, Ezra willingly stayed aboard the Star Destroyer, sacrificing himself for the sake of his homeworld.

It was worth it, though. With Thrawn gone, the Spectres’ plan went off perfectly. The command center flew into the sky, and Sabine blew it to smithereens. Lothal was freed at last.

What’s Next for the Spectres?

Luckily, the Empire never returned to conquer Lothal again, allowing the community to rebuild and improve. Yet the Spectres still had a role to play in the larger Rebellion. 

By the time of Lothal’s liberation, Hera had achieved the rank of general in the Rebel Alliance, a role that would see her continue to serve on the front lines against the Empire. She fought in everything from Scarif to Endor to the final battle over Jakku. In addition, she also welcomed a new member to the Ghost crew: hers and Kanan’s son, Jacen Syndulla. 

Yep, Hera was pregnant with their child before Kanan died.

Zeb also continued to serve in the Rebellion and, later, the New Republic. By the time of The Mandalorian, he was still serving in the New Republic Defense Fleet. In addition, he took it upon himself to take Kallus on the secret route to Lira San, showing him that he hadn’t wiped out the Lasat like he thought, as they welcomed him as one of their own. 

Rex would ultimately achieve the Commander rank and fight in the Battle of Endor. Thus, he saw the fall of the Empire that had betrayed the Jedi and Clones alike.

Ashoka would ultimately make it off of Malachor, though it’s still unknown what she did during the Galactic Civil War. However, she made it her mission to track down Thrawn, both to stop the threat he posed to the New Republic and to honor the promise she made to Ezra. When that proved more challenging than anticipated, Ashoka returned to Lothal to seek out Sabine. Having survived the Purge of Mandalore, she watched over Ezra’s homeworld before realizing he meant for her to find him. 

And that’s where the story of the Spectres ends for now.

Keep in mind that this was an extremely abridged retelling that missed a lot of stuff. If you want to know the full story, go binge-watch the show on Disney+. Then come back in time for Ashoka.